Sunday scaries before another week of work, waking up to your alarm when you want to sleep in, and the thrill of freedom when entering into a weekend with nothing to do — these are all common feelings we experience throughout our daily lives. After a certain amount of time having the same life schedule, we often start feeling restrained by our routines. But is the routine the enemy, or is your time management just making it seem that way?
Routines get a bad rep for sucking the adventure and happiness out of people, but let’s be real. The majority of us have fairly consistent routines, and that’s not going to change — and it doesn’t have to! You have more control of your time than you’d like to admit, and you’re capable of building a routine that serves you. Here are six simple steps to accomplish this.
In order to improve your daily routine, you first need to conduct an audit and be honest about how you’re currently spending your time. Since every minute counts, feel free to get very specific here.
6am: Wake up
6:15am: Drink coffee
6:30am Take a shower
This may be difficult and seem like a waste of time to write down, but it is crucial for you to be able to analyze how your time is currently being spent, so you can see areas you could use it better. Identifying even 10 extra minutes to do something that makes you happy could make all the difference.
Our schedule should not be something we dread. Consequently, along with our other responsibilities, it should include tasks we are looking forward to doing.
Look over your daily plan and see which items are necessities. Then identify where you could squeeze in time for things that feel like they’re more “ideal” than “critical.”
These “wants” could be something as simple as enjoying a cup of coffee alone or taking a hot bath before bed. The more small “ideals” we can add into our day, the more rewarding it feels to accomplish everything else — plus that thing you were looking forward to.
The most important part of this step is to be realistic. You may need to start your day a little earlier in order to squeeze in some time to read before bed, but you don’t want to be overly ambitious by adding in two hours to your day to go on a run, meditate, paint a picture, and bake a cake. Set yourself up for success!
Section the items on your list into topics and see if any areas of your life are lacking some attention.
For example, you might see that you are spending the amount of time you want with your family, but you’re spending more time on work and less time for yourself than you’d like to.
This may require you to sacrifice some of your lunchtime to go to the gym and take some time for yourself, instead of working over your lunch hour (while still allocating the proper amount of time towards work that is expected to keep your job, of course!).
An important aspect to this step is that you keep your categories all in the same schedule as opposed to keeping a list for each topic. If you keep one personal, one work, and one family list, you are bound to sign yourself up for more than you can accomplish, and end up dropping the ball in one of those areas. Keeping tabs on your categories of to do items helps maintain balance and flourishing in all aspects.
Tasks that are larger and can’t be done in a day can be rolled into your weekly plan.
Our weekends naturally have a larger time frame of flexibility. While this can mostly be used for relaxation, sometimes (most of the time!) there are just things that need to be done. And let’s be honest, you won’t relax until they are done, anyway.
Need to deep clean the house, assemble your kid’s furniture, and paint the deck? Set aside one weekend for each of them. This way, you know you are planning to get it done and are less overwhelmed. Spreading these things out also allows you to make sure you stick to your daily routine and are not sacrificing time for the things you set out to do.
Evaluate your list of daily things and question if all of them are totally necessary for your routine.
When writing out your routine at the beginning of this exercise, you will likely think to yourself “I actually have more time than it seems. What am I doing?” The truth is, we tend to get sucked into non-productive things that we don’t typically plan for, such as watching Netflix and scrolling through Instagram.
It may not be totally realistic to eliminate all of these things, but if you reduce them from, say, two hours to 30 minutes a day, you will find much more time in your day for things that are necessary for your overall health and happiness.
Hold yourself accountable to this routine for at least a month.
After a month, you have started to make a habit of not only your daily routine, but keeping track of your daily/weekly/monthly to do’s. After this time, you can evaluate what has been working and what hasn’t, adjust accordingly, and keep going.
Routines are not always easy or enjoyable, but as long as you are checking all the boxes and building them around your needs/wants, your routine is serving you at the end of the day — not the other way around.
“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” - John C. Maxwell